Sent out or sent in?

Sunday’s Gospel raises confused longings in me. ( )  I read about the Sending of the Seventy and ask – should I be sorting used clothing and making healthy soups and walking with our friend Lysander on the streets of New York helping the homeless? Should I revive a once-loved ministry in a girl’s detention facility? Should I offer myself to the diocese again as a children’s ministry consultant? Should I be passing on my expertise to a new generation of Christian Educators? Is there something I could do in an orphanage in Cameroon or South Africa where friends work already, or even Congo, or the slums of Nairobi?

Obviously I must feel guilt over the life I lead. I garden. I grow flowers, cut and arrange them for chapel and the dining room table and for sale on Saturday Farmer’s Market. I write. I study scripture. I correspond with interesting people, many of them young. I mentor interns in the spiritual life during the summer. I lead retreats during the program year with satisfying results. I perform household chores and I cook for guests and sisters and residents once a week. I’m not especially worried about money. My children are grown and responsible for themselves. My body is reasonably in good shape at the moment – although it’s fragile enough that honestly I’d be a burden rather than a help in most of the challenging situations I mentioned above. Except for the occasional inadvertent look into the past, my only ache, really, is the desire for more solitude, and I realize it’s not the time for this while we’re busy building community and with all our other projects at Blustone Farm.

When Bill and I came to the farm I “heard” that long silent interior Voice, (what else do you call it when there are actual words?) saying Come to My Garden (and showing in my mind’s eye a beautiful blue-green cabbage plant.) In spite of the uncomprehensible vastness of the universe, I believe there’s a specific purpose to my own little life. Intuition, self-knowledge, silence, and those old Ignatian discernments (consolation or desolation), and talking with friends and mentors help guide me as I stumble along. I feel I have something terribly necessary to do. But it is not “out there.” At least for now.

My life now is a respite from pain, heartbreak, periods of violence, and loss. I practice a habit of gratitude. I practice interiority, the inner work necessary for the solitude for which I hunger. The more I pray, listen, pay attention, the more purpose I feel. This Garden of Gratitude teaches me to perceive my heart’s desire … and Love’s desire for me.

A favorite correspondant just wrote:

Sure Cure for Writer’s Block

There once was a priest based in Brewster
Of interest to Simon & Schuster
Her gifts she resisted,
But then God insisted –
The Spirit first loosed her, then goosed her.

4 Responses to “Sent out or sent in?”

  1. Mary Beth Says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey to where you need to be.

  2. claire Says:

    I can so relate to what you wrote. Thank you.

  3. joan Says:

    With your arms wrapped around the blue green cabbage (a little green planet, a deep blue sea?) you look just like Grace, you are grace. How long it’s been!

  4. Debra Says:

    Ecclesiasticus for heaven’s sake. You are not lazy, or wasting your gifts, you are at peace and where you should be at this time. You bless me.

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